May 29, 2019 / 7:09 AM / 6 months ago

UPDATE 1-Elekta beats forecasts as strong demand boosts fourth quarter

* Q4 EBITA up 16% to 985 million Swedish crowns

* Analysts had forecast 860 million

* Sees sales growth of between 8 and 10% in 2019/20

* Forecasts EBITA margin of around 19% (Adds CEO comments, background, detail, shares)

STOCKHOLM, May 29 (Reuters) - Radiation therapy equipment maker Elekta reported core earnings above market expectations on Wednesday and forecast profitability would improve in the current year.

Its shares jumped 11% in early trade.

Elekta, a rival to U.S.-based Varian Medical Systems and Viewray, said quarterly earnings before interest taxes and amortisation (EBITA) rose 16% to 985 million Swedish crowns ($103 million), beating a mean forecast for 860 million in a poll of analysts.

“We had a very strong finish to the year and managed to exceed all our targets,” Elekta CEO Richard Hausmann said.

The company said it expected sales growth of between 8 and 10% in the 2019/20 fiscal year, based on constant exchange rates.

It forecast an EBITA margin of around 19% compared with 18.3% achieved in the past year.

Order intake in the fourth quarter was 5.4 billion crowns, 6% higher than the poll forecast.

Elekta said it had booked six orders for its new radiation therapy system Unity in the quarter, though some expected orders had shifted into the new fiscal year due to longer procurement processes.

The company reiterated its target of 75 orders for the system, seen as an important future growth driver, by mid 2020.

At present, 45 of Elekta’s Unity systems have been ordered.

Elekta said it would pay a dividend of 1.8 crowns per share for the year, up from 1.4 crowns a year earlier and above the 1.28 crowns consensus forecast.

$1 = 9.5880 Swedish crowns Reporting by Johannes Hellstrom Editing by Helena Soderpalm and David Holmes

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